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Kobel's Art Weekly

Art Düsseldorf 2023; photo Stefan Kobel
Art Düsseldorf 2023; photo Stefan Kobel
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 14 2023

For the fifth time since its founding in 2017, Art Düsseldorf has just taken place. Georg Imdahl is pleased in the FAZ: "The fifth edition of Art Düsseldorf confirms it: the small fair with 95 exhibitors this time has established itself. Doubts as to whether a second marketplace close to Art Cologne was really necessary have been dispelled by the regional orientation. Everywhere, it is not only the former industrial halls of the Böhler site that are enlivened by daylight that are cited as advantages. Numerous gallery owners express their gratitude for an obliging management that they miss elsewhere and that apparently effectively takes care of an informed public in matters of contemporary art in VIP programmes. The spring date, when the international calendar of sales exhibitions still has some breathing space, is also seen as an advantage. The number 32 is worth noting: one third of the vendors are newcomers, which testifies to a considerable fluctuation".

Alexandra Wach misses a unique selling point of Art Düsseldorf in the WeLT of 2 April: "Now Art Düsseldorf must defy the trade fair competition that will quickly follow in the coming weeks (Art Brussels in April and Art Karlsruhe in May) with new baits. They are not particularly original. Other fairs also have a digital magazine. And curated solo presentations as well as a segment ('Next') for younger galleries that have been on the market for less than ten years don't hurt, but are also standard. 'In the future, we want to consistently expand our digital innovations,' says Gehlen. On the preview day, the fair drew numerous visitors who were amused like children released from Corona house arrest by the 1.2 million euro 'seat sausages' by Franz West at the Viennese gallery Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman."

I was in Düsseldorf for Handelsblatt and Artmagazine.

At the same time, a similarly regionally oriented fair, Art Paris, was taking place in France, which Olga Grimm-Weissert characterises for Handelsblatt: "Art Paris has always given French galleries a privileged forum. This time, too, the fair confidently maintains its orientation with 60 per cent French and 40 per cent foreigners. With their date in spring, far away from the new top fair 'Paris + by Art Basel' in October, both fairs strengthen Paris as a location because they practise collegial cooperation. This means that gallery owners can now exhibit at both fairs without being under pressure. Although many big galleries are present, one notices the absence of international market makers Hauser & Wirth, Gagosian, Ropac and David Zwirner."

Bettina Wohlfarth sees Art Paris on the upswing in the FAZ: "Art Paris remains on course for success: under the direction of Guillaume Piens, the Paris spring fair for contemporary art and post-war modernism has not only been able to navigate through the pandemic skilfully and without lapses, but has also steadily increased its quality. Major international galleries registered at Art Paris during the Covid crisis because fairs elsewhere were cancelled. Emmanuel Perrotin made the first move, then Kamel Mennour, Galleria Continua or Lelong & Co followed suit - and are now sending positive signals by returning for the second or third time. As in 2022, there were far more applicants than possible participants for the 25th edition now taking place." But that is the nature of selection procedures.

At the same time, SP Arte was taking place in Brazil, of which Maximiliano Duròn of Artnews was one of the few international journalists to report: "While Brazil's market is heavily weighted towards São Paulo, the current 19th edition of the SP-Arte fair is showcasing some of the best contemporary art being across the country. This is important, given Brazil's vast scale and diversity, and the focus is only underlined by the fact that of the 100 art galleries participating, only 15 are international."

Auction house Phillips seems to be in trouble despite its expansion in Asia, Ben Quinn has found out for the Guardian on the basis of the trade register (document of 15 March): "A Russian-owned British auction house that has been the target of calls for a boycott has lost tens of millions of pounds in recent years and has been left in a parlous financial position, records show. Phillips is heavily reliant on guarantees provided by two founders of a Russian luxury retail group and has seen its debts mount up. Auditors said the ability of the Russians to provide support could not be guaranteed and a 'material uncertainty' may cast 'significant doubt' on the business's ability to continue."
A German summary can be found in the FAZ by Ursula Scheer.

The market for antiquities is interesting both at the top and for newcomers, Jan Kohlhaas sums up the auction results of the recent past in the Weltkunst (paywall): "Sotheby's went one step further in January, however, when it introduced a new auction concept under the title 'The One', presenting a mixture of antique artefacts and modern memorabilia. The ambitious auction experiment claimed to bring together 'an unprecedented selection of the finest products of human achievement'. Thus, among the 20 lots, a Miami Heat jersey worn by basketball player Lebron James at the 2013 NBA Finals (hammered down to $3 million) was found next to a 19th-century Japanese suit of armour (hammered down to $120,000), a medieval sandstone apostle's head (hammered down to $580,000) next to an elegant dress once worn by Princess Diana (hammered down to $480,000)."

In the FAZ of 1 April, Hubertus Butin is a thorn in the side of the disguisingly named deaccessioning of museum collections: "In American museums, works of art are often instrumentalised as speculative financial assets, but even the German Museum Association allows the sale of collections. The Museumsbund permits the disposal of collection sites 'within narrow limits according to predefined guidelines'. But in Germany, the 'deaccessioning' of cultural heritage should remain a taboo, because what's gone is gone and sometimes remains an irreparable loss. While a sale for economic reasons may be a great temptation now and then
may be a great temptation now and then for economic reasons, future generations will appreciate today's principle of preservation more than we can imagine at the moment."

Between four and a half and almost seven years in prison for five of the six defendants are demanded by the public prosecutor in the trial about the burglary of the Green Vault in Dresden, reports MDR. A verdict is expected in May.

The Belgian collector Baroness Myriam Ullens de Schooten, who founded the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) with her husband in Beijing in 2007, the first private museum for contemporary art in China, was shot dead by her stepson, reports Monopol.

semi-automatically translated


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